(Flickr)

Transportation

‘Ridiculous idea’: Surrey councillor slams mayor’s vow to deny ride-hailing licenses

Annis says McCallum should be working for residents, not ‘handful of taxi owners’

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is facing criticism after he told a crowd of taxi drivers he plans to deny business licenses to ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, particularly since the province has said municipalities won’t have the power to block operators.

“The cities actually have one tool in their back pocket and I’m going to use it in Surrey, and that is that every ride-sharing company needs to have a business license to operate in the City of Surrey,” McCallum said to a meeting of taxi drivers in Vancouver on Tuesday, to much applause.

“We will not be issuing any business licenses to ride-sharing companies in Surrey,” he added.

But lone Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says that’s a “ridiculous idea.”

“The fact that we don’t have enough transit or cabs to start with makes the Mayor’s idea just another poke in the eye to the thousands of Surrey residents who would use Uber and Lyft,” Annis stated in a release issued Tuesday night, adding that the mayor should be “working for Surrey residents, not (a) handful of taxi owners.”

According to Annis, Surrey needs Uber and Lyft as part of its overall transportation plan.

“We also need more cabs that aren’t burdened by cross-border restrictions between Lower Mainland communities,” she said in her release.

READ MORE: B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

SEE ALSO: Surrey mayor slams ride-hailing, again

“Surrey is the size of Richmond, Vancouver and Burnaby combined, we’re a big place with major transportation and transit needs and that includes ride hailing as part of the solution. The public is getting fed up at being forgotten in this whole discussion. Riders and consumers should come first.”

Annis is calling on the provincial government “to step in and tell the Mayor that ride hailing is, in fact, coming to the Lower Mainland, including Surrey, this fall, period.”

“Competition in this sector is definitely healthy because it will benefit riders and consumers,” she said in her release. “Frankly, I think it’s the consumer’s turn to take the lead and that means getting Uber and Lyft in Surrey right away. Like thousands of Surrey residents I’m looking forward to ride hailing and plan to use it when it’s here.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey Board of Trade calls for ‘level playing field’ for taxi industry, ride hailing

Anita Huberman, Surrey Board of Trade CEO, also slammed the mayor’s comments, saying her group has been “huge advocates of needing ride-hailing not only in Surrey but also in British Columbia.”

“In Surrey we need alternative transportation options. SkyTrain’s not going to be here for a while. How are people going to get around? To say no to ride-hailing will impact economic development,” she told the Now-Leader Wednesday. “With a third of the popualtion is under the age of 19, young people are looking for ways to get around the city which is large geographically.”

Huberman noted the board of trade is “trying to make Surrey a music city destination.”

“So when people are enjoying live music at night, they have a safe way to get home. You can’t always rely on a designated driver to get you home or even a taxi,” she sad. “We need transportation alternatives. It’s going to be 2020 soon, let’s get ride-hailing.”

This past January, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena said McCallum’s opposition to ride hailing is something he’ll “have to work through.”

“We’re looking at provincial regulations and how we can make sure that at-base ride hailing is going to work in B.C. and that’s our priority,” Trevena told the Now-Leader at the time. “What happens in various jurisdictions I think is something the mayor is going to have to work through, but we’re looking at a provincial model.”

READ ALSO: B.C. ride hailing licence fees set, applications accepted in September

The Passenger Transportation Board has the sole authority over PVDS (Passenger Directed Vehicles), including taxis, limousines, shuttles and ride-hailing operators.

The province says municipalities may not prohibit such drivers from operating in their municipalities, and that bylaws banning operators will “have no effect once the ride-hailing framework comes into effect on September 16, 2019.”

McCallum has been vocal in his opposition to ride-hailing operators for months. In late August, he issued a statement emphasizing that.

“These new regulations would allow ride-hailing companies the ability to pick up across boundaries, while the taxi industry must abide by limits,” the statement read. “This would create an unlevel playing field. I am also not in favour of allowing unlimited fleet size for ride-hailing companies. This lack of regulation will negatively impact the environment and increase congestion. It will also negatively impact the existing taxi industry, who has loyally served Metro Vancouver’s residents for decades.”

McCallum did not respond to a request for an interview but an emailed statement was provided through the Mayor’s Office Wednesday morning.

“My opposition to ride-hailing companies comes down to fairness,” the statement reads. “Taxi companies adhere to regulations and restrictions. If ride-hailing companies are allowed to operate with no limits, it would create an unlevel playing field. An unfair market environment would impact the livelihoods of taxi drivers and their families. It is imperative that both ride-hailing companies and the taxi industry should be subject to the same regulations and restrictions, anything less is unacceptable.”

In response to McCallum’s comments, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure sent an emailed statement to the Now-Leader, reaffirming that provincial law “restricts the authority of municipalities to regulate the supply and boundaries of taxis and ride hail vehicles.”

The statement adds that Trevena has “heard the concerns of Mayor McCallum and other stakeholders and has written to the Passenger Transportation Board to relay their concerns.”

“We will continue our work to provide the services people have been asking for in a safe and responsible way that considers the effects of congestion and the livelihoods of those in the taxi industry,” the statement adds.

-With files from Tom Zytaruk.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Amy on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

All Safe Surrey Coalition council members must ‘step up’ over ‘bad taste’ tweets, rivals say

Slate’s posts on social media in ‘bad taste,’ councillor says

First degree murder charge laid in South Surrey shooting death

Wayne Duncan, 46, was killed on Sept. 6, 2019

Surrey sports groups grapple with refunds, registration, restrictions and more

‘Our biggest problem is going to be retraining the public because they can’t be there’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Low-cost bicycle repair shop opens in Cloverdale

Cloverdale Community Cycles starts up in church parking lot

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Two more COVID-19 cases reported by Langley long term care facility

One resident, one staffer have tested positive for the coronavirus

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Suspect sought in alleged assault, hate crime on Metro Vancouver bus: transit police

The woman then allegedly punched the teenager in the head multiple times

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Abbotsford International Airshow opening 50-year-old time capsule

Bronze time capsule was put together to commemorate AIA as Canada’s National Airshow

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

Most Read

l -->